L Lapatsina, JA Jira, ESJ Smith, K Poole, A Kozlenkov, D Bilbao, GR Lewin, PA Heppenstall
A complex of stomatin-family proteins and acid-sensing (proton-gated) ion channel (ASIC) family members participate in sensory transduction in invertebrates and vertebrates. Here, we have examined the role of the stomatin-family protein stomatin-like protein-3 (STOML3) in this process. We demonstrate that STOML3 interacts with stomatin and ASIC subunits and that this occurs in a highly mobile vesicle pool in dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons and Chinese hamster ovary cells. We identify a hydrophobic region in the N-terminus of STOML3 that is required for vesicular localization of STOML3 and regulates physical and functional interaction with ASICs. We further characterize STOML3-containing vesicles in DRG neurons and show that they are Rab11-positive, but not part of the early-endosomal, lysosomal or Rab14-dependent biosynthetic compartment. Moreover, uncoupling of vesicles from microtubules leads to incorporation of STOML3 into the plasma membrane and increased acid-gated currents. Thus, STOML3 defines a vesicle pool in which it associates with molecules that have critical roles in sensory transduction. We suggest that the molecular features of this vesicular pool may be characteristic of a 'transducosome' in sensory neurons.